I am a very lucky blogger because, to date, I have tested just about all of VIVOBAREFOOT‘s best offerings. But oddly enough, until recently I hadn’t actually tried the very shoe that put VIVO on the map: the Evo II.
Unique even to its successors, the Evo II embodies the original hexagonal trademark that is VIVO. With its neat all-over hexagon pattern, unique boxed-in lacing system and stylistic outer piping, the Evo makes a pretty cool fashion statement. A bit of a show-stopper in its own right, this is VIVOBAREFOOT’s sportiest looking shoe.
A bit heavier than VIVO’s later offerings (around 6 oz. each), the Evo II is still light enough by my standards. The upper is constructed of what they call a PU Hex Flex Cage (likely a mix of mesh fabric and some form of plasticized rubber), which acts a bit like a semi-rigid shell rather than your typical soft mesh upper. Although my experience was that it seemed rather clunky, I think the firmer material will likely add to the durability of the shoe over time. It’s also probably part of the reason this shoe is marketed for cool weather, and I agree it would be an excellent choice for winter.
The 5mm thick, puncture-resistant sole is paired with VIVO’s typical 3mm removable insole, which I left in during my testing. I have concluded in my travels that I prefer a little more padding for longer road distances. I found the ground feel to be superb, like all of VIVO’s offerings. In fact, VIVO remains my pick for the most consistently excellent ground feel throughout its current line of footwear.
The Evo II last is not very wide. It’s probably wide enough for most folks, but it doesn’t have the same excess in width that I’ve enjoyed in some other models like the Neo and the Lucy Lite. The Evo II would be perfect for someone with a narrow foot or finds the other models too wide for their liking. I didn’t exactly feel cramped, but I certainly could have done with more room in the toe box.
And speaking of toe box, I didn’t love the way it crinkled where my toes bend while I was running. This is a downside to having that rigid cage design on the upper. It dug into the top of my foot a little when I wasn’t wearing socks. With socks on it wasn’t as noticeable, though. Because of the dark color of my pair, I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the crinkling.
Other than that I found the performance to be as expected. When you test several shoes from a company that puts the same sole on all their road shoes, there really isn’t much that can surprise you. Their product is just remarkably consistent, and this can be a good thing for a company or it can work against them. For example, if you love VIVO’s shoes already, you’ll probably like the Evo II a lot. But if you haven’t been impressed by their road models in the past, then they’re not giving you much more to work with. I’ve yet to see their 2013 offerings, but my hope is that they will decide to take a few more risks and perhaps pull in a wider audience.
Overall, I’m glad I got to test VIVOBAREFOOT‘s earliest road shoe. It’s good to see that their strengths have followed through from their very first brainchild. The Evo II still holds up against its newer counterparts because it does some different things to please different people, namely those with narrower feet and those looking for a durable cold-weather minimalist shoe.
I hope that this review has been helpful. If indeed I have helped along your decision to purchase a pair of VIVOBAREFOOT shoes, please show me some love by entering VIVO’s site via my blog. You can do that by entering any of the links on this article or by clicking the VIVOBAREFOOT banner to the right. Thanks so much and happy running!